December 4, 2022

German Elections: Social Democrats Take Narrow Lead in Polls

Ever since Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) announced their candidate for Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, they have been gaining in the polls. Germany is set to have a new government with Martin Schulz as Chancellor and Angela Merkel as Vice Chancellor. In this blog post we will go over what happened during Germany’s elections and why Germany has a new government!

Crisis in Italy

The election result has fanned worries over the future of the euro area’s third-largest economy amid inconclusive results from Italian elections last month. The situation was further complicated when euroskeptic 5 Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio this week called for early elections to capitalise on his party’s gains.

Di Maio later retreated after parties set to form a coalition with the center-right party made clear they won’t support his plans for fresh elections.

Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan wrote in an editorial published Monday that “the crisis is on our doorstep” due to Italian political paralysis. Berlin should work more closely with Rome, he said, citing the need to shore up economic growth and manage migration flows.

A ‘Political Crisis’

Citing Italy’s election result, European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici warned of a risk of a “political crisis.” He added: “There is clearly a growing sense of urgency where it concerns the solidity of our institutions across Europe.”

That comes as Merkel’s task has become harder after herU bled support while its junior partner in the outgoing coalition, the Social Democrats, suffered their worst result since World War II.

Anti-Merkel Sentiment

The far right Alternative for Germany entered parliament for the first time on Sunday with about 13 percent of the vote — one of many results that showed a nation shifting away from established parties.

“We will take our country back,” AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland said in Berlin on Monday, reiterating his party’s stance that “we want to be an opposition party.” Merkel has ruled out entering into coalition with them.

Merkel’s bloc was dealt another blow by the success of the environmentalist Greens, who surged to almost 18% of support after years spent in government under Merkel. The SPD finished fifth, with less than 20% of the vote.

“We had been hoping for a better result,” said Merkel, adding that she would conduct coalition talks “in a spirit of stability and as far as possible also willing cooperation.”

A ‘Political Earthquake’

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the results on French radio as a “political earthquake in Germany.” While he said it wasn’t immediately clear what impact it would have on Franco-German relations, Le Drian added: “What is clear is that France and Germany will continue to work closely together.”